Facebook Pages: Local Outperforms Global

Article first published as Facebook Pages: Local Outperforms Global on Technorati.

Internationally active companies starting their Facebook adventure face a tricky issue. Do they create a one-fits-all international page or do they setup a targeted page for every region or country? Both have strong arguments speaking for them and sufficient points to rule them out. Many companies, especially small and medium sized ones, go for a global page to ease administration and cost.

According to data mined by Socialbakers this might be the wrong way to go. They analyzed the international and local pages of big brands such as Nike, Starbucks and BMW. The results were uniform across the sample: The local pages outperform the global versions in terms of fan engagement and wall activity index. These are important measures indicating how your fans react to you and what you have to say.

The reasons
One obvious contributor to this phenomenon is the language used by page administrators and fans. Most global pages are operated in English as it is assumed to be commonly understood. Yet, many fans would rather prefer to communicate in their own language. This tends to create a linguistic mess on the page, which reduces interaction as meaningful conversations become hard to create.

Another factor is culture. Not every joke or witty remark is funny everywhere in the world, not every explanatory term makes sense worldwide. Administrators are culturally biased and communicate on that base. Over time it’s unavoidable to accidentally exclude, annoy or simply misunderstand certain parts of your fan demographics. The alternative is purely informational updates with no real engagement value.

A third major problem is the time of posting. Studies have shown that fan engagement also depends on the time of broadcasting. Global pages are usually operated from a single office in a single time zone. To reach a West Coast American in his usual Facebook hours (7-9am, 5-10pm) a European administrator would have to work night hours. From experience I can tell that in most marketing departments this just isn’t part of corporate reality.

Why this is important
For Facebook pages engagement is key, even more so than on Twitter. The visibility of a page’s status updates depends on the Edgerank. It computes your relationship with your fans and accordingly prioritizes your message. The more a fan interacts with your page by liking, commenting or posting the more visible your messages are to him. There also is a time factor, which reduces the importance of messages the longer ago they are by the time a user accesses his news feed. This makes timing your status updates very important.

Local pages don’t face most of these problems and thus have a better chance to create an engaged community, which makes the whole experience worthwhile for both sides.

The lessons to learn
While many local pages are more strenuous to operate, the potential gain is huge. Higher engagement rates increase your chance of actually creating a return on your investments in the long run. Especially smaller and medium sized companies should take this into account when considering their options.

If resources are a dominant issue, start small with a page for your home region and learn the ropes. In the “Interactions” tab of Facebook Insights you can keep track on the engagement rate. Post feedback is especially useful as it details which updates worked best with your audience. Build on that and develop an understanding of your fans and a strategy to keep them happy.

Only once the first lessons have been learned and things are running smoothly with highly engaged fans start considering further steps towards world domination on Facebook.

Do you have a global, multilingual page that brims with interaction or a local page with thousands of fans but no response? Tell us about your experience!

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One Response to “Facebook Pages: Local Outperforms Global”

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